The Rotary Club of Southwest Wisconsin is establishing a Rotary Youth Exchange Program.
The program is the result of the club’s recent strategic planning process, in which members determined that, among other things, the club stands for “international engagement, perspective, and concern.”
“The Rotary Youth Exchange experience changes lives,” said club president Marie Whisenant. “It’s what inspired me to get involved with Rotary a year and a half ago.”
Whisenant’s daughter, now 18, had to search for a Rotary club to find a sponsor for her exchange experience in 2013–14. That prompted Whisenant to realize there was “absolutely no reason Platteville shouldn’t have a Rotary club.”
Whisenant connected with others interested in re-establishing the local club, and since then the group has been growing and defining itself while taking on local service projects.
Rotary Youth Exchange students spend a year living with host families and attending school in another country. They learn a new way of living, possibly a new language, and a great deal about themselves. Simultaneously, they’re teaching the people they meet about their own country, culture, and ideas. As cultural ambassadors, they have the opportunity to bring the world closer together and make some lasting friendships around the world in the process.
Candidates for the program must be sophomores to seniors in high school at the time of application and 16 to 18 years old when they leave for their assigned country. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.75 or be in the top 50 percent of their class. Students from anywhere in Southwest Wisconsin can apply through the Southwest Wisconsin Rotary club. Applications for students interested in spending the 2016–17 year abroad will be due this fall.
Whisenant is visiting the Spanish and French classes at Platteville High School in late April and early May to introduce students to the program and application process, and will be available with information in the cafeteria during both lunch periods on Thursday, May 7. Students interested in learning about the program can meet with her then for information or to ask questions, or email her at email@example.com.
Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work impacts lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. For more information, visit www.rotary.org.